Time Bandits Movie Review

Subscribe To:
History belongs to the victors, and Terry Gilliam takes his rightful ownership of Western history in this timeless romp through the ages. Writer and director of some of Monty Python's most enduring and foolish productions, Gilliam reaches the top of his form with Time Bandits.

Young Kevin (Craig Warnock) is a history buff trapped in the household of his shallow, materialistic parents. While they sit mindlessly in front of the television, absorbed in an insanely morbid game show, Kevin explores his history books enthusiastically, fantasizing about a more meaningful world than the one in which he lives. But when his parents finally send him to bed, his world gets a lot more interesting.

Led by a band of five midget bandits, Kevin steps through the doorway of time and lands in an adventure like none he's imagined. With a map stolen from the Supreme Being who created the universe, the misfit adventurers scurry from era to era robbing from some of history's best known figures.

Along the way, a familiar cast greets our travelers. Ian Holm is a ridiculously size-obsessed Napoleon Bonaparte who loses his wealth to the tiny thieves. John Cleese appears as Robin Hood in a sequence hilariously reminiscent of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Sean Connery plays a sober and valiant Agamemnon. And Shelley Duvall appears with film co-writer Michael Palin as a luckless lover in multiple scenes.

A highlight of the movie is David Warner's performance as Evil, the sinister being who plots to escape his fortress of darkness and destroy the world. Backed by his brigade of moronic lackeys, he lures to travelers out of the conventional timeline and into the Age of Legends (in which Katherine Helmond appears in a memorable role as the wife of the hapless Ogre), which leads them to certain doom.

With the possible exception of Brazil, Time Bandits displays the most inventive and amusing blend of set design, costuming, and effects of Gilliam's career. Certainly his later films benefit from advances in technology, but the imaginative triumph of Bandits transcends technical limitations. Even the absurdly simplistic spacecraft in the film's final scene is finely detailed in its own odd way, and Gilliam's direction lifts this cast over some of the sets' less awe-inspiring features.

Tongue-in-cheek bravado has carried the Python players a long way from their 1969 Flying Circus, and Gilliam has contributed to this success every step of the way. Time Bandits is essential viewing for anyone who has every laughed at a Monty Python sketch. Sure, Holy Grail has captured the pop culture spotlight, but this film plays more like an actual movie. This is the film Grail longed to be.

Subscribe To:


Time Bandits Rating

" Extraordinary "

Rating: PG, 1981


More John Cleese

They're Very Naughty Boys: Ofcom Probes Monty Python Swearing

Communications watchdog Ofcom is investigating the Monty Python live show after bad language was broadcast before the watershed. Many of the complaints about the farewell...

John Cleese To Star As Villain in Baywatch-but-not-Baywatch Spin-Off. What?

We’ll admit to being a tad confused with this one. A new Baywatch spin-off movie has been announced; with Monty Python star John Cleese fulfilling...

A Week In News: Sheeran's 'x' Ed, 'Transformers' Schools Rivals, Monty Python Class Reunion, A 'Hundred-Year-Old Man' Breaks All The Rules

Glastooo!: You'd have had to have been living under 17 rocks on the other side of the world to avoid the constant Glastonbury Festival coverage....

Mick Jagger Hazes Monty Python In Video For (Mostly) Live Reunion

The last ever round of Monty Python reunion shows has been getting mixed reviews since its first night, July 1. While most fans likely filled...


Mick Jagger Takes The Mickey In Monty Python Reunion Tour Video

Mick Jagger has starred in a promotional video for the upcoming Monty Python live shows, the first of which will be held tonight at London's...

Recent James Bond Films Have Been Geared Towards Asian Audiences, Says John Cleese

John Cleese, who played James Bond’s gadget man Q in 2002’s Die Another Day, has claimed that filmmakers are more interested in the Britsh Spy’s...

'The Last Night Of Monty Python' Stage Show To Be Shown In Cinemas

This latest announcement will see Monty Python fans simultaneously rejoice and mourn. The bizarre band of innovative comedians will regroup for the final time to...

Michael Palin: "A Lot of Monty Python Was Crap, It Really Was"

Michael Palin, 70, has claimed that much of his pioneering comedy show Monty Python's Flying Circus was "crap". The comedian, writer and broadcaster conceded there...